By Carol Williams
The current challenging economy and overcrowded job market that characterizes civilian employment renders job hunting quite difficult for veterans. Once you get past the initial screening and an employer invites you to a job interview, you can already consider it as an achievement. But your job isn’t finished – this is the moment when you should make the effort to learn as much as you can about the organization. This knowledge will help you to face recruiters and make a great impression. Here are some tips to help you research a potential employer and boost your chances at landing the job.
- Examine the job posting
In your job search, you probably visited websites displaying job postings. Go back to the job posting advertising your position and examine it closely. Recruiters try to give candidates as much information as possible in postings, so analyze its content and read between the lines to learn what are the key required skills, competences and experiences. The job posting is your first step towards finding out what kind of professional profile the employer is after.
- Learn key company facts
This is an important point. To impress recruiters, you should come to the interview well-prepared and at least partially aware of the kind of work you’ll be expected to do once hired. It’s good to have a general idea of who are the company’s main clients and competitors, and what are its key products or services. All of this will help you to situate yourself in the company’s ranks and show your experience from the right perspective.
- Check the employer’s website
This is the second step to learning more about the employer. Be sure to visit the ‘About Us’ section of the website and any other parts which are related to the job you’re applying for. Pay attention to information about products and services. You should also visit the recruitment section – this is where companies often write what kind of candidates they’re looking for.
- Visit the company’s social media profiles
Social media are key communication channels used by brands for marketing purposes. Many brands rely on their social networks to bring in great talents on board – you might find links to posts about working at the company or company culture on Facebook or Twitter. Have a look at the company’s profile on LinkedIn – you’ll instantly find a lot of names which are connected to the organization, saving you time on searching them separately.
- Check the salaries
The salary question is a job interview classic, so you better prepare for it beforehand. Instead of guessing or giving a number out of the blue, have a look at this practical user-generated-content website Glassdoor.com to see insider information about over 30,000 companies. Organization profiles include actual salary figures as reported by workers themselves, divided by function and location. Knowing average salary rates for your position and level of expertise will help you in negotiating a good salary without selling yourself too short.
- Check recent events and news about the company
Be aware of what the company has been up to recently. Knowing these latest developments at the company and directions for the future will only help you during the interview. You can find this kind of information on the company website, in subpages dedicated to events and press releases. If something catches your eye, you should have a look at Google News – you’ll learn more about the public image of the company.
- Know the leadership
It’s a good idea to learn more about the company’s leadership. LinkedIn should be your first resource – you’ll find bios of key executive members that will show you their career track (including the one at the organization you’re applying to) and provide you with their contact lists. Make sure to check your target organization’s leader profiles with files in mind – they might upload PowerPoints, white papers, and other materials that will be just perfect for referring to in both a cover letter and interview.
- Explore the company culture
There are many recruiters who believe that the best candidates are not those who are most talented, but those who perfectly fit into the company culture. This is an important quality not many job seekers know about. And a job interview is the best setting to exhibit it. Browsing through the company website and social media, you’ll be able to gather information about company culture, values and mission. Be it Twitter or Facebook, social media accounts will give you a good insight into the employer’s culture and help you check whether you’re the right fit. It’s a good idea to follow the enterprise on social networks to keep yourself in the loop.
- Get insider knowledge
We’re living in the digital age and getting insider knowledge about an organization is relatively easy. Websites like Glassdoor, The Job Crowd, or Inside Buzz include heaps of company profiles with honest reviews written by current employees. This is where you can learn about typical interview questions asked by your potential employer, as well as key details about the hiring process. And it’s all genuine – after all, you’re not the first one going through the process.
- Network with company employees
This is a key point in your preparation. Check LinkedIn and see whether you’re connected to anyone who used to work or currently works at the company. Reach out to them and ask for insider information about the company aimed to help you decide whether you’re the right fit. You can later impress the interviewer with your contact. If you don’t know anyone working for this employer, try posting a question in a LinkedIn group asking members about the company – some of them might have valuable knowledge to share.
- Learn more about the interviewer
Before heading off to your interview, take your time to learn more about the person interviewing you. Research them to see whether you share anything – an interest, a contact, a school. This is what will help you to forge a meaningful connection with them and improve your chances at landing the job. Be sure to mention this common point during the interview.
- Arrive early to observe the environment
On the day you’re scheduled for an interview, arrive early and assure the receptionist that you’re more than willing to wait for your allotted spot. Sit in the reception lobby and begin your observation. Are people stressed or relaxed? Are they chatting around or seem to avoid each other’s gazes? This is a strategy perfect for getting the feel of this workplace and learning more about the employer’s culture.
Researching the employer before applying for a job or going to an interview is the single best solution to help you make a great impression and boost your chances at finding a job that perfectly fits with your expectations about civilian employment.
About the Author
Carol Williams works for Navel Oranges – fruit shippers from Florida. She is passionate about HR and combines her intense background in human resources with her love for writing.